5 string or 4 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ftroopy, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. ftroopy


    Nov 8, 2003
    New York City
    Hey All ,
    I know that this question been thrown around before. But Just wanted to get a feel of my fellow bassist to see if you guys prefer a 4 string or 5 string bass and why?

    Just needed to ask because in choosing a bass I was asking myself what do I need a 5 for? Do I need it in any of my songs? Is there a difference in sound I want? Or is it good to just have it in your arsenal ?

    You guys know the feeling. I hope

    Thanks fellas
  2. I think I prefer a 5 string......'cos with every 5 string there is a free 4 string thrown in!

    Seriously though, I have 3 4 string basses and 2 5 stringers. I like them all otherwise I wouldn't keep them.

    5 is good because of the extended low register, as well as having a choice about how much to move your fretting hand!

    However, if you don't need one, I don't suggest you buy one - plenty of bass players ahve had very long careers and never touched one!
  3. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    While this topic has been discussed a million times, as a fellow TB newbie I always appreciate fresh discussion on anything, since the search yields *so much* info, like almost overwhelmingly so...

    Anyways, ftroopy (great handle btw), I agonized over this myself when I got back into low end rumblin' - so much so that I literally couldn't sleep one night, that's how undecided I was.

    I finally decided to keep the 4-string fires burnin. The choice, personally, was because of the material I play, which at most requires a dropped-D occasionally, as well as the immediate comfort I find in the physical instrument itself.

    I've owned 5s, even 6s in the past and always go back to 4. So if you have a choice, play every bass you run across. Not only will you find your number of strings, you'll find your favorite neck profile, string spacing, and myriad other things you like about basses =0) I don't know if you're new to the instrument or just new to the 5-string notion - if the latter, then apply what I just said to the 5-strings you find. If you just don't like to play them, case closed.

    That said, I still wanna find a GT7 to play just for S&G's, but knowing how I feel when I play even a 6, I'll probably not end up getting one.

  4. Ralphdaddy

    Ralphdaddy Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Chicago, Illinois
    I've had a slew of four strings and two very different 5's, a Warwick and a Jazz, and for some reason I rarely make much use of the B despite my constant insistence that I need it and want it. To tell the honest truth I question why I keep telling myself that. The 4 strings are so much more comfortable and easier to play in various ways. The 5 string makes it harder to slap, but opens up a new string to slap and new slap and pop arrangements, but it also makes your hands tired faster. Go with what sounds good, because if it sounds good you'll play it. Some days I hate my Jazz bass and I wonder why I bought it then I pick it up and fall in love with it's sound again and remember why she's mine. That never happens with my Sterling oddly.... No matter, the 5 strings are sweet, a ton of great bassists play them and they're fun to jam on and the B is sooo low, it's awesome just to groove on the 5th string and get that immediate massive, overpowering warmth. Good luck bro, I feel your pain I had an impossible time deciding to get another 5 string after I dumped my Warwick.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Get the fiver because:

    1) Lots of new songs feature bass lines that go below the range of an EADG four. This is happening even in country music.

    2) It's easier to play four-string lines on a fiver, because you have more note choices available, and a greater range of notes in each fingering position. I use the B string a lot... it's important to point out that I use it to play *above* low E more than I use it to play those below-E notes.
  6. I prefer four strings by far. I don't think I'll ever own a five. I've been playing a four string for so long, and I've never felt limited at all, so way change. To me, the low B just is not necassary. I also orefer how they feel so much more. It's not just the added width of the neck, and the extra string that bugs me. I would actually prefer having a five string with wide spacing, because it would be easier getting used to it. The problem with wide necks, is that the neck is almost always way to shallow to make up for it. It's awkward and uncomfortable for me to play either way. I also really don't like the way five strings look nearly as much. When ever I see a really nice looking five, I always think in the back of my mind: too bad it's a five string. If I ever absolutely needed a low B, I would probobly just get a four strgin, and string it B, E, A, D.
  7. cods


    Sep 16, 2003
    why does everybody forget the high c?!?!?
  8. It's nice to have both.

    You never know what you might get called to do!

  9. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    'cause we're all drinkin' Kool Aid!

  10. Moving Pictures

    Moving Pictures Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    I prefer 4 string. The music I play is mainly hits of the 60's and 70's or originals. However I have been thinking about getting a 5. What's holding me back is that I noticed a lot of low end 5's have floppy B's. It seems that those that are happiest with 5-strings play midrange and above instruments. So I will wait until the right one comes about.

    Dan :bassist:
  11. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB


    About the 4 vs 5 debate, see what feels good to you. The main issue, outside of necessity, is how it feels, IMO. I don't like the feel of those Fender Jazz 4 types, but I like a bigger neck, like the one on my BTB405. And I hope to like 6 string necks as well later on, but that's a different story. So try a bunch of basses, and find out what you like. I can't really suggest more than that.

    Good luck!
  12. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    For the last three years, this has been an ongoing
    struggle with me.
    I have gone from 4-strings to 5-strings to 6-strings. Although all have there own thing.
    For the last 4-months it's been the six string.
    Now I'am back playing the 4-string.
    I have large hands, so fingerboard size is no problem.
    I love having the Low B and High C.
    But when all's said and done, I go back to the 4?
  13. ftroopy


    Nov 8, 2003
    New York City
    Wow , all you guys have great answers! Thanks for the responces.

    For a while I had a 5 string Ibanez and I sold it cause I keep on going back to the 4 string. Slapping needs some getting used to. Also recently received a brand new schecter 5 string through endorsement, and returned it. Still couldn't get used to it. Is it me? or do you really have to change your playing style ?

    It took me some time to get used to the 5 then it felt weird going back to the 4 and vice versa... maybe I need a head check..lol

    Don't get me wrong though , i could still play the hell out of a 5 string but for some reason I can't seem to be precise in my playing.. as for the 4 string i'm so much more smoother.. i hope you guys comprehend what i'm sayin..lol

    But keep the responces coming, i love to hear what all of you have to say ! it's a good learning experience.

    Thanks all!
  14. I went 5 two years ago and never looked back. I have huge hands and never had an issue with the neck size at all. I hate narrow-spaced 5s like Ibanez Soundgears, Warwicks, and Stingray 5s. It's as though they tried to cram 5 strings on a neck with the width of a Fender Jazz 4 string. I've got 2 low priced but nonetheless high quality 5s - an MTD Kingston 5 and a DeArmond Pilot Deluxe 5. I picked them both up off of Ebay for $300 each. For what I paid these are both FANTASTIC instruments. The quality of the stuff coming out of South Korea these days is slowly nearing parity with MIJ and MIA stuff. Both are 35" scale, and both have tight Bs, which I believe is essential to having a good 5 string bass. I've played basses with sloppy Bs, like MIA Fender Jazz 5s, and the loose B just kills the experience.

    I'm probably gonna go with 6 in the future just to have the extra soloing and chording options available. IMO, 5 strings will in the future become the standard bass guitar, with 6s as 'extended range' instruments. Seriously though.... we are bassists, why would you deny yourself the opportunity to go as low as you can go by playing an instrument that a keyboard can play lower than? 5 strings is where it's at for me.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    In Y2K, after 20+ years of four-bangin', I switched to five and haven't looked back: it's everything I need in a bass. Took 3 months for me to get comfortable on it. Note that I put my fours away during the transition period because I felt that they were a distraction. Also, I learned a bunch of new songs fresh on fiver, rather than un-learning and re-learning songs I'd played for years on four. Maybe those tips will help you get used to fiver.

    All that said: some people give fivers (or sixers or sevens) a fair try and decide that four-string is everything they want and need from a bass. Only you can decide that, but if it's true for you, ain't nothin' wrong with that. Best of luck to ya.
  16. ftroopy


    Nov 8, 2003
    New York City
    Hey thanks for the tip fuzzbass, I will surely give the 5 strings some more messin with. Another dilemma is that my band tunes a half step down so with a 5 string it's a little floppy especially the low B . That's another sole reason for switching back to a 4 string in my case anyway.

    Any recommendations of what type or brand of 5 string bass that is good for that? Does heavier strings help in anyway?
  17. Yes, heavier gauge strings will improve the tension, depending on the brand of strings.

    Taperwound strings, would be another option, for a tighter B.

    Check out the Sadowsky 5 strings, they are really tight!

  18. Armchair Thief

    Armchair Thief Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Houston, Texas
    To be honest, the only reason I still play a 4-string a good chunk of the time is because my 4 is a Rickenbacker, and I just love its unique sound (one of these days I hope to stumble across a 5-string 4003S which are sadly no longer made.) If there was no such thing as a Rickenbacker, I probably wouldn't be playing a 4 at all. (I don't have any particular affinity for other "classic" basses, ie. Jazz or Precision.) My fretless is a 6, and I find more strings on a fretless to be especially useful since I don't have to shift positions quite as much and having that contribute to possibly throwing off my intonation (any more than it already is!) ;)
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 19, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.